The largest outdoor rodeo east of the Mississippi kicks off this week.
About 10,000 people are expected to attend the 37th annual Limestone County Sheriff’s Rodeo.
More than 120 out of about 130 employees at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office have signed up to help with the annual event.
“I love the rodeo! It’s a great thing and it’s something good for the community," Erin Moran said.
Moran has worked for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office for 21 years, and each year, she looks forward to the sheriff’s rodeo.
“We’re going to go out there and we’re going to work as hard as we can, just like we have every year," she said.
Moran provides food for those involved in the event. She also helps out with the special needs rodeo.
“To see the look on their faces when they ride the horses, when they’re on the wagons, things like that. It just gets to your heart and that’s what it’s all about," she said.
This is the first rodeo since an employee at the sheriff’s office filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, saying they felt forced to work the annual event without pay.
An investigation was done and the Department of Labor found the rodeo did not meet their definition of “volunteering.”
But Moran told WAAY 31 she’s never felt forced to work, and she said she never expected compensation for lending a hand.
“I don’t have to be paid. It’s something that I love doing. It helps us out so much and it gives us things that we need, like cars and vests," Moran said. "I don’t want to get paid. Even if they did pay you, I still would be out there working. I don’t expect to be paid.”
Moran told WAAY 31 she’ll continue helping out with the rodeo for as long as she can.
“I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know that I’ve been here for 21 years and I’ve done it 21 years; and if I have 21 more years to spend with the sheriff’s office, I’ll be doing it," she said.
After the complaint was filed with the Department of Labor, the sheriff’s office settled the case for around $50,000. That amount was distributed among 126 employees.